An Exclusive Q&A With Terry Michael

KLOFinancial |

Originally featured in the fourth edition of our Insights magazine, in this interview KLO Financial Planner Terry Michael answers some questions about his career and success – including his fascinating story of how he went from DNA analyst to Financial Planner.

In the first episode of our KLO Talks podcast, Terry Michael also discusses this article with personal financial expert Peter Komolafe, founder of Conversation of Money. Listen to the podcast for free on Spotify:

After starting a career in DNA analysis, what was the driving force behind you moving into finance?

I truly had a passion for science, hence my undergraduate degree in Medical Science. I took this passion into DNA Analysis, my first job after completing my degree. I really enjoyed my time as a DNA analyst and I do look back on this period in my life with fondness. However, whilst learning the ropes within the industry, I could see that a lot of the work that my colleagues and I were employed to carry out, should, and would eventually be automated. This worried me and I knew at that point that it would not be a long-term arrangement for me.

Whilst continuing to work in the role I started to think, what else could I do? However, the answer came to me without realising it. The role was based in London, which meant that I had to up and leave my home in Birmingham and move down to London. If you have ever tried to live in London yourself, you will know that it is very expensive! I soon found this out for myself. My salary at the time (2008) was £16,000 and this did not stretch very far. I always had an interest in stock markets, which looking back was my father’s influence. He would always talk about global markets and would constantly read up about them, he still does to this day.

To make ends meet, I started to trade my own stocks online, and if you remember, 2008 was the year the Great Recession took a hold. Probably not the best time to begin a new hobby trading stocks, however, I started making money. I was hooked! I left my role in January 2009 and returned to Birmingham where I started studying for qualifications in Wealth Management whilst working in the family Fish & Chip shop.

So, I guess the driving force was two-fold; I saw the industry I was in becoming more and more automated (which it has), and I saw that the researching skills I had learnt in my Medical Science degree could be used for a career in finance.

You have had a successful career so far working for large financial companies, why did you choose KLO as your next career step?

Working for large companies can be very rewarding at times and I enjoyed all my roles within the industry, but I started to look at the industry as whole and the number of changes that we have witnessed over the last few years. I wanted to provide clients with what I think they really need, financial planning, creating a structure within their finances and a plan that I could work with clients to achieve their goals over the long-term.

I have known the directors at KLO from the day the firm was established and over time I realised we shared the same values when it came to our clients. Quality and care for their clients is at the forefront of the firm’s culture and this was the reason I chose KLO as my next career step.

With the ever changing political and financial landscape in the midst of Brexit, what do you feel are the most important factors for advisers and firms always staying one step ahead?

It is important to stay up to date with the legal side of financial planning, as this is an area that is constantly developing. Given the current political landscape, it could be on the cusp of much greater developments. For this reason, working with lawyers is an important part of financial planning. As a financial adviser, it is important that you do not try to be all things to your clients. If the expertise of another is needed to accomplish the best solution for a client, then they should be involved in the planning process.

Efficiency is key in any business. Being proactive in this area will really help firms keep costs down for clients. With talk of costs possibly rising on the back of political decisions, cost will be ever more important. Having said that, the world is always changing and will continue to do so, and cost is not everything. It all boils down to the service you provide clients. Communication with clients when times are hard is appreciated a lot more than communication with clients when times are good.

What motivates you to be successful?

I think it comes down to my upbringing to be honest. My father grew up in Birmingham and he and his family were very poor. My mother grew up in Cyprus and helped her parents with their farm, until they sent her to England when she was 14 to escape the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

They started out with nothing and worked very hard for their success. They taught my sister and I that hard work is necessary and you should take pride in whatever you do. People value and depend on you to do a good job, and it’s important not to let them down., Whatever your job is, you should do it to the best of your ability.

With the focus on delivering an outstanding client experience, what differentiates you from other IFA’s?

My years working on the other side of the fence is a real positive for clients. I spent most of my career managing clients’ investment portfolios as a discretionary fund manager (basically a modern-day stockbroker). The experience and knowledge that I carry with me within global stock markets provides my clients with an extra layer of value that other IFAs simply cannot provide.

How do you stay current on industry developments?

Reading. There’s no other way to do it. Constantly reading is the key to improving your knowledge in any sector. You have to read lots, as there are a lot of opinions being published these days without any factual basis. You have to filter out the rubbish and focus on the true facts. Unfortunately, the only way to get to the facts is to read a lot of the rubbish first.

What is the one piece of financial advice you think everyone should know?

Get a will written to protect your family. People assume that if you are married, there is no need for a will. If you die without a will, your spouse is entitled to the first £250,000 of the deceased’s estate and half of anything above this value, with the remainder going to any children. It’s just easier to have a will in place, but so many do not.

Start saving as early as possible and get a professional to advise you. So many people think they can ‘play’ the stock market and they buy shares in one or two companies. Then they brag to their friends how successful and smart they have been with their investments. Until the next recession comes by and they realise how exposed they have been for so many years. This is called gambling, not investing, there is an enormous difference. With gambling, the potential gains are huge. With investing the gains are usually smaller, but the investor will survive the next recession and come out the other end, the gambler will not!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Surround yourself with genuinely good people. People that want the best for you and are happy when you succeed. It is so important to know that the people you hold close by, actually want you to succeed. These people are usually positively focussed people that will be there for you through thick and thin.

Financially speaking, I would advise my younger self to have started a financial plan earlier. The earlier you start, the better! The power of compounding returns over the longer term is extraordinary. I have seen it with my client’s wealth over the years. If you don’t believe me, believe Albert Einstein, who famously said that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.

“Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” – Albert Einstein

To get in touch with Terry Michael, please contact him by emailing